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Bates, Martine
Red Deer (Alta.), Red Deer College Press,
1993. 168pp, paper, $9.9 5, ISBN-08895-095-4
(Northern Lights Young Novels)
Distributed by Raincoast Books. CIP

Subject Heading:
Fantasy-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15

Reviewed by Alison Mews

Volume 22 Number 1
1994 January / February

In this second book of the Marmawell triology, Bates continues the story of Marwen begun in  The Dragon's Tapestry. Although it too employs expressive, poetic language,  The Prism Moon is filled with the dark presence of power gone awry.

Having defeated the dragon in the first book and thus discovered that she does indeed have a tapestry to fulfil, Marwen now seeks a staff to claim her birthright as the wizard's heir. But the journey is complicated by the advent of Winterdark, when magic is forbidden; the Tenets of the Tapestry must be obeyed or disastrous consequences will ensue.

According to Vean mythology, he who touches the prism moon receives the love of all, but Maug, Marwen's cousin, steals the prism moon in order to wield absolute Power. He then uses the power to enslave his followers, killing any that oppose him. Previouly Marwen had promised to weave Maug's tapestry, but she delays doing so to obtain her staff, believing it is necessary to attain wizard status.

It is her hesitation, coupled with Maug's theft, that creates a different destiny for all of Ve, upsetting the fragile balance of life and death. When, at last, Marwen is captured by Maug and spell-forced to weave a tapestry of his own design, she manages to tap into the source of the prism moon and use its power to refuse to shape an alternate future for Maug. Marwen realizes that she can hold the beauty of the moon without possessing it, but only if she remains true to herself.

Although magic is pervasive throughout, it is manifested as spells of subjugation rather than a magical enchantment. Not for the faint-hearted, this sequel contains human sacrifice with live victims, a frequent embodiment of evil in fantasy novels. The knowledge of Ve gained in  The Dragon's Tapestry is extended and enriched in  The Prism Moon, but is, I believe, essential to, understanding the sequel fully. As the destructive forces are overcome by the novel's end, it will be interesting to see which direction the third book will take.

Recommended for collections containing the first book of the trilogy.

Alison Mews is Coordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services, Faculty of Education, at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, Newfoundland

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